For immediate release, please May 3, 2017

Bill Downing 617-834-8746
Andy Gaus 617-232-3896

As the Massachusetts legislature considers a host of changes to the marijuana legalization law passed by the voters last November, MassCann/NORML, which has been promoting legal cannabis in Massachusetts since 1989, is focusing on four key areas as we advocate for the best possible legislation:

1) Oversight of all cultivation should be transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. Licensing hemp and marijuana growers, conducting inspections for purity and quality, and regulating pesticides should be handled by the state’s resident experts. This provision is contained in House bill H3195, An Act Improving Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana, sponsored by Rep. Denise Provost.

2) Medical marijuana dispensaries should be licensed to open as recreational stores in July of 2018 if they want to do so. This measure is necessary to ensure that the opening of recreational stores is not delayed for years as it was in the case of medical dispensaries. This provision is contained in the current law but needs to be protected against further delays or changes.

3) Employers must be mandated to treat employees who use marijuana in a manner similar to the way they treat those who use alcohol. This move will face opposition from business owners, but it is crucial that marijuana users should not be treated like criminals in the workplace or elsewhere. This provision is also contained in House bill H3195.

4) Expungement of nonviolent marijuana offenses is necessary to reclaim at least some of the lives wasted by the drug war. And the marijuana industry should not be restricted to people who have never had anything to do with marijuana. This provision is contained in S1063, An act relative to expungement of repealed crimes, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

“There are other issues we care about,” explains Bill Downing, MassCann’s member liaison. “But these are areas where an extra push in the next few weeks might change the outcome.”

MassCann/NORML urges all those with an interest in marijuana to contact your representative and senator and let them know where you stand, preferably citing the bills you support. It would also help to call House Speaker Robert DeLeo (617-722-2500) and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (617-722-1500) to let them know the public doesn’t want freedom to go backwards. It was the voters who made marijuana legal in Massachusetts, and voter involvement is what will keep legalization on track.